For over 100 years The Salvation Army has been fighting alcoholism in its 119 United States based adult rehabilitation centers (ARC). This ministry began in 1881 when William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army, opened shelters for homeless people on the streets of England. During this time many homeless people were also alcoholics, and it was in these shelters that the ARC ministry began. By the 1940s American ARCs were developing a more professional counseling program, and in the 1950s ARCs hired professional social workers and psychologists as permanent staff. Today, ARC ministries extend to those suffering from alcoholism as well as multiple drug addictions.
The Salvation Army's ARC ministry is totally self-supporting, receiving no government funding. In order to support the ministry, The Salvation Army takes discarded items that people donate, recycles them and then sells them in Salvation Army thrift stores. In the past in-kind donations have gone through a warehouse for processing, but recently The Salvation Army has begun opening superstores where donations are accepted and processed on-site.
Salvation Army ARC ministries in the United States provide housing, clothing, medical attention and educational aid to men who are seeking help for a drug or alcohol addiction. The ARC focuses recovery around the spiritual fulfillment that comes through a personal relationship with Christ, offering a variety of programs that practically accent this spiritual ideal. In some areas programs have developed that serve women with addictions, but for the most part the ARC ministry is focused on men dealing with alcohol and drug addictions.
Current Addiction Recovery Program
Today's ARC offers a 6-12 month intensive rehabilitation program. Each prospective participant must be between age 21-65, willing to admit the need for rehabilitation to overcome problems, in good physical health, willing to participate in the entire program and to commit to a six-month (26 week) period of rehabilitation and be free of intoxicating drugs, including alcohol, upon admission and express a desire to rebuild a lifestyle free of chemical dependency. The individual must also admit themselves voluntarily to the ARC program. During the program, participants (otherwise known as beneficiaries) are offered counseling, group therapy, spiritual guidance, educational programs, work therapy, Christian living classes (practical application of Christian ethics), Bible study, literacy education, medical screening and help with anger management and relapse prevention.
Each beneficiary is given a work therapy assignment when first admitted to the center. The program is structured to provide each participant with an opportunity to complete tasks successfully, resulting in an enhanced sense of self-esteem. The men get used to working again within a safe, controlled environment that allows them to interact with peers and supervisors while dealing with the mental, physical and emotional challenges posed by a life without chemicals. When possible, men are placed in an assignment compatible with past experience and abilities. However, in many work therapy areas it is possible to do fundamental training that will prepare the participant for entering the job market.
Chemical Dependency Classes
The twenty-six weeks of chemical dependency classes consist of films, illustrated lectures and visiting speakers. The films, some of the latest and finest in the field, deal with all aspects of addiction including many classic symptoms and emotional phases through which the disease progresses. Visiting speakers are well-respected local professionals in the field of chemical dependency and offer insights from a wide variety of viewpoints. Illustrated lectures lend additional aid to the ministry. They are supplemented with handouts and collateral material, helping those attending to retain the information presented and giving them a starting point for their own reflections. All sessions of chemical dependency education are arranged so that there is time for a question and answer period. Variety of subject matter and open commentary engenders a sincere interest and active participation by beneficiaries.
Six-week Anger Management Course
The six-week anger management course address the origin, nature and consequences of anger. Each class lasts for an hour and is supported by handouts, charts and illustrations. The Salvation Army believes that learning to cope with anger in a positive non-self-defeating manner is a crucial asset to living a sober life.
The twelve-week series of relapse prevention lectures clearly outline the relapse process. Participants learn to identify the early stages of relapse before problems or retroactive addiction occurs. Within the program tools for dealing with relapse difficulties are discussed in an interactive environment. All aspects of sober life are examined, including job, family, relationships, health, nutrition, recreation, spirituality and service to others. The emphasis in this program lies in building awareness, support systems and a balanced life. Sometimes the support groups take the form of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings. In-house meetings are run by the beneficiaries themselves. Within the ARC ministry this usually involves a one-step-a-week overview of the program or a four-week overview of the first four steps in the program.
Each beneficiary is assigned a counselor to work with throughout rehabilitation and as needed. These one-on-one relationships build trust and self-confidence in the beneficiary and give the ARC staff more thorough insight into the individual case.
Each beneficiary is assigned to a group during the first week of treatment. The group meets weekly throughout the duration of the ARC program. During group meetings beneficiaries discuss their feelings in a caring environment facilitated by a counselor.
Christian Living Classes
These classes are attended by the beneficiary for the full 26-week program. The curriculum includes:
- An overview of the Bible and its significant guidance in daily life
- The origins of Scripture and its concordance with modern historical record and science
- Issues of faith in Christ as the foundation of spiritual life
- The nature of a personal relationship with God
- Developing a deeper relationship with God through prayer. Ways to make prayer a valuable tool in building a Christian life
- The value of Christian living--as it relates to recovery
Through these ministries the beneficiary is given the opportunity to reconsider his personal value system and make a commitment for real spiritual growth within a Christian environment. All staff members strongly support the emphasis on Christian growth and salvation as keys to complete recovery.
These services are held on Sunday morning and Wednesday evening for all persons in the center. The Sunday service is a formal meeting, while the mid-week service is more informal with awards, sharing and celebration of program achievements.
Drug testing is implemented in order to maintain an alcohol and drug-free environment. The center employs an Alco-Sensor breathalyser for spot checking on alcohol usage. An ADX Urinalysis machine is also available for use. Twenty-five percent of the center's population is tested weekly on a random basis.
Family education classes run in 6-week cycles. Spouses, parents, siblings and other immediate family members of beneficiaries are encouraged to participate. Subjects include the ARC program, the disease concept of addiction and family roles in dependency. Family members are shown how they are affected by the addiction, what they can and cannot do for the chemically dependent person and how to seek help and further support for their own growth and healing.
Some locations offer a three-month re-entry program that includes training in obtaining employment or the pursuit of higher education. Many graduates of the ARC program go on to earn college degrees. Some also take advantage of transitional living arrangements that The Salvation Army provides for its ARC graduates.